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Written by
Ed Frawley

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K9 Policy and Procedure for a Medium Sized Department


The Eau Claire Police Department maintains a canine unit in an effort to provide the City of Eau Claire with the best police service possible. The canine unit will allow the department to increase productivity, deter crime, and improve public relations with its improved search capabilities, drug detection, and the added dimension of tracking.

The purpose and duties of the canine unit shall include but not be limited to:

a) Tracking of individuals sought by police.
b) The search of buildings or areas for suspected criminals.
c) Locating evidence which has been abandoned or hidden.
d) Reasonable and necessary physical apprehensions.
e) Search and rescue of lost and missing persons.
f) Detection of illegal drugs.
g) Handler protection.


The canine unit is assigned to the patrol division under the immediate supervision of the on-duty commander. For purposes of training and related issues, the canine handler will report to the canine unit supervisor (see 4-3207.)


The handler(s) shall perform general duties except when their services are required for special details or training.

a) On Duty Assignments - The canine unit may be assigned to or respond to any incident where the unit could be of assistance. Examples include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Burglary in progress calls, intrusion and/or robbery alarms, events in progress or that have just occurred.
  2. Felony or misdemeanor crimes where the suspect has fled on foot and a need for tracking exists.
  3. Drug searches for canine units certified in this field.
  4. Building or area searches for suspects.
  5. Searches for evidence or discarded contraband.
  6. Searches for lost or missing persons.
  7. Bomb searches for units qualified in this field.
  8. Department training presentations.
  9. Public relations.

b) The canine officer may not always be dispatched or requested by Patrol to respond to calls like the aforementioned. It is, therefore, imperative that the canine officer monitor calls being dispatched in the city and respond to any situations where the canine unit may be of assistance. The canine officer shall notify the Communications Center of the assist, prior to his/her arrival.

c) The canine officer will notify the Patrol supervisor and Communications Center of scheduled on-duty training and location. Patrol supervisors will only clear the canine officer from training in the event of necessity.

d) The canine unit shall not be used for the following situations:

  1. To search for other animals.
  2. To control a crowd, with the exception of situations where it is immediately imperative to prevent death or serious bodily harm to individuals.
  3. To perform breeding services except as approved by the Chief of Police.
  4. To accomplish any application where a strong potential exists for discrediting the Eau Claire Police Department and the canine unit.
  5. To be entered in any show or trial without the Chief of Police's prior approval.
  6. Be assigned a call that leaves the Canine unsupervised for an extended time or causes the team to be unavailable for call.

e) The canine handler(s) shall maintain accurate and up-to-date records in the following areas:

  1. Training records.
  2. Medical and health records.
  3. Performance records.
  4. The canine handler(s) will submit a monthly report summarizing the activities of the unit. This report shall include all incident numbers of situations the dog is involved in.


The decision to apply the dog in a given situation shall be solely that of the dog handler(s). He/she will be the only one capable and trained to read or understand changes in his/her dog's demeanor which would affect its application. All canine unit activities are subject to the rules and regulations of the Eau Claire Police Department.


a) All public relations demonstrations must have prior approval of the Canine unit supervisor.

b) All outgoing information about the canine unit shall be first approved by the chief or his/her designee.


Officers involved with a canine deployment shall be governed by the following:

a) Officers at the scene shall contain the area to the extent possible to prevent escape of the suspect(s) and maintain their perimeter security until notified that the search is concluded. Patrol units assigned to perimeter locations will be moved accordingly with the canine unit's track.

b) Officers shall refain from unnecessary conversation, stay clear of doors and windows, and shall not enter the search area unless instructed by the canine handler(s) or supervisor.

c) When the canine unit enters a building or search area, at the discretion of the handler(s) another officer may be assigned to accompany the canine unit. This officer's responsibilities would be to provide cover for the canine unit.

d) Officers should avoid lighting up the canine team with spotlights or flashlights.

e) If an officer is requested to accompany the canine unit during a field or building search, he/she shall take a position to the rear of the canine handler and carefully follow all instructions given by the handler.

f) Once the dog has been sent to make an apprehension, other officers shall not attempt to take the person into custody until the animal has been called off, unless it is safe to do so.

g) Officer interference with a canine in pursuit may result in injury to the officer(s). If an officer comes between a suspect and the dog, he/she should stand as still as possible and make no overt movements.

h) Officers checking an enclosed area with the canine unit shall issue verbal warnings before searching a building, structure or premise unless it is tactically undesirable in a given situation. This announcement will be made periodically during the search of the area, depending on the area size.

i) The perimeter unit should keep the area clear of civilian personnel.

j) Officers should avoid contaminating the search area prior to the completion of the canine's search. Officers should be careful to refrain from touching any discarded evidence.

k) If officers have entered the search area or building prior to the canine unit's arrival, they should make sure that all officers are out of the area prior to the canine's search. The canine handler should be made aware of the area that has been contaminated.


a) No members of the Department will touch, handle or pet the police canine unless given permission by the handler.

b) Personnel shall not tease, agitate, or harass the police canine.

c) Members of the Department shall refrain from horseplay with other personnel or the handler when the police canine is present. Do not make aggressive gestures towards the handler.

d) If a working canine (for example, an actively tracking, scenting, or apprehending canine) approaches an employee, the employee should stand still.


The canine unit shall be guided by departmental use of force policies. Should a situation arise where a canine is used to apprehend a suspect, the handler should have probable cause to believe a person has committed a felony in violation of Wisconsin statutes, or, that there is danger of serious injury to officers or other persons by the suspect. The handler shall allow the canine to use only the force necessary to effect the apprehension of the subject the dog was ordered to apprehend.


The following are criteria that may be used in the selection of a departmental canine handler:

a) Officers shall have a minimum of two years law enforcement experience with the Eau Claire Police Department.

b) Officers shall be volunteers.

c) The officer's residence shall be capable of housing the canine and have adequate space for the construction of a kennel. The officer will be required to house the canine at his/her residence.

d) In the event the officer does not own the property, the officer shall obtain written permission from the property owner for the housing of the canine.

e) Any officer selected for the position of canine handler should expect to remain in the canine unit for the working life of the dog.

f) The officer shall be in good health and not suffer from serious medical problems and must be strong enough to withstand the dog handling, training and work conditions.

g) The officer shall have family in agreement with his/her being assigned to the canine unit.

h) If there are other pets in the home, the officer shall agree that if conflict occurs between the department's animal and the pet, that the pet must be removed from the home.

i) The officer shall understand and embrace the canine unit's mission and philosophy.


a) Insure all handlers complete the assigned basic training program.

b) Review canine officer's monthly reports and maintain records of same (43 203. 1 (e))

c) Be responsible for all records on the canine program, i.e., selection, handler training, monthly evaluation, activities, arrests and apprehension. These records should be on file and available for inspection.

d) Ensure required maintenance training is conducted.

e) Act as liaison to department supervisors and personnel for the canine unit. Liaison duties would consist of apprising departmental personnel of the activities and capabilities of the unit as well as seeking input for improvement of canine services to the department.

f) Assign public relations duties.

g) Conduct required kennel and vehicle inspections.


Dogs selected must meet the following criteria:

a) Dogs must pass physical examination by an approved veterinarian.

b) Dogs must pass temperament testing.


a) Initial School Criteria

  1. Before any dog is accepted for the program, it shall be given a medical examination by an approved veterinarian.
  2. The canine training program must be approved by the Chief of Police.
    A canine training program will be selected to meet the specific needs/philosophies of the department.
  3. Training shall be conducted in an orderly fashion during all work sessions with periodic breaks for relaxation of dogs and personnel.
  4. Safeguards shall be employed to prevent injuries to dogs, personnel and third parties during training.

b) No canine unit shall be used until the unit has completed the selected course of instruction.

c) Training Updates

  1. Refresher training will be conducted on an on-going basis, as determined by the handier and supervisor.
  2. Periodic testing and recertification will be required of each canine unit.
  3. Training should be varied and should be representative of the job requirements.
  4. Dogs shall not be abused or mistreated, and only such force as is absolutely necessary to restrain them will be permitted.
  5. Training shall not be performed without proper equipment.


Canine units will respond to incidents outside of the City of Eau Claire under the following guidelines:

a) The Chief of Police or designee must approve all requests.

  1. The commanding officer may approve exigent circumstance requests.
  2. Pre-planned requests must be approved by the Captain of Patrol.

b) The requesting agency will be advised that they will be expected to reimburse the City of Eau Claire for the canine unit cost, if:

The situation is a pre-planned event.

A non-adjoining jurisdiction makes a request.

An adjacent jurisdiction makes a request when the canine unit is off duty.

c) The canine handler will be advised of the request and any special requirements.

d) The requesting agency will be advised of the decision authorizing use of the canine unit. They will also be given an approximate arrival time if the canine unit has been authorized to assist.

e) Upon arrival at the scene, the canine handler will determine the amount of involvement by the canine unit.

A shift supervisor or designee will prepare a written report for the Chief of Police furnishing information relative to the following:

a) The request for use of the canine unit, including the name of the requesting officer or official.

b) The need for such service.

c) The action taken on the request.

d) The results of the assistance.

The canine handier will file a complete report concerning the involvement of the canine unit.


If any canine handler becomes incapacitated or injured and is unable to handle his/her dog, officers at the scene should:

a) If possible, have the handler call his/her dog. Once the dog is under his/her personal control, the crisis should subside.

b) Attempt to call the dog to the squad, the canine vehicle if possible, using the phrase the handler would use to load his/her dog.

c) Attempt to get another handler.

d) Consider bringing the spouse or member of the handler's family to the scene.

e) If necessary, tranquilize the canine.

f) Destroy the canine as a last resort.


In every situation where an Eau Claire police dog injures another person, the following procedure will be followed:

a) The shift supervisor will be immediately notified.

b) All necessary use of force reports required by the department will be filed.

c) The injured party shall be interviewed regarding the crime and the dog's activities.

d) Ask the injured party for a release of medical records.

e) Record all details of medical care.

f) When the location of a bite is in a sensitive area, an officer of the same gender as the victim shall act as witness and photographer.

g) Turn in required reports within 24 hours of the incident.

h) Medical Treatment.

  1. If an injured party is uncooperative, the canine officer should request another officer to be present to verify the injured party's response. This would include refusals to allow the effected bite area to be observed.
  2. If an injured juvenile refuses to allow you to see the alleged bite area, that person should be escorted to a hospital, as soon as possible, for doctors examination. If a parent intercedes and refuses such examination, a second officer should be available to witness the refusal.
  3. In all cases of visible injury in an alleged bite area, have the juvenile taken to a medical facility when practical and possible. This information shall be included in a complete report.

i) The same requirements shall prevail even if the bite is accidental and occurs while on or off duty.

The canine officer shall be afforded the protections provided in section 895.46 of the Wisconsin Statutes with respect to injuries or damages resulting from the actions of the canine, whether occurring on or off duty.


Eau Claire Police Department canine handlers, except with approval of supervisors, are to care for their assigned police dog.

a) The handler will be responsible for the health and welfare of the assigned canine, both on and off duty.

  1. Annual medical examinations will be conducted every year or as needed should an injury occur.
  2. Veterinarian care will be paid for by the department.
  3. Any illness or injury of a non-emergency nature shall be reported to the handler's supervisor. If it is determined by the handler the canine should be taken to the veterinarian, the supervisor shall be notified as soon as practical.
  4. In an emergency situation, the handler shall insure that the canine receives immediate medical attention. The handler shall submit a memorandum to his/her supervisor describing the entire incident.
  5. The handler will be responsible to administer any medication as prescribed by the veterinarian.

b) The canine(s) will be licensed in accordance with state and local laws.

c) The handler will be responsible for the daily grooming and check of their assigned canine. The labor contract will specifically address this issue.

d) The canine will be fed regularly at a time that will allow a maximum of time between feeding and going on duty. A food allowance will be provided by the department.

e) The canine home kennel will be kept clean and sanitary.

f) Canines are the property of the City of Eau Claire and will be treated accordingly.


Each canine unit will be equipped with the following:

a) The uniform on duty will be the uniform of the day. When training or on a track or search, a blue jump suit with proper footwear is permissible.

b) One fully equipped vehicle.

  1. Emergency equipment similar to a regular patrol vehicle.
  2. Separate cargo area for the canine.
  3. Remote opening capabilities for the cargo area of the vehicle.

c) One short lead and one long lead with one collar.

d) One agitation sleeve and muzzle.

e) Any other necessary equipment as recommended by the handler to the canine supervisor upon final approval by the Chief of Police.

The City of Eau Claire shall provide:

a) Food and veterinarian care.

b) All other necessary equipment for training and patrol duties as deemed necessary by the department through the usual process.

Canine handlers are responsible for the issued equipment and insuring that it is kept in good condition. Any damage to, malfunction or loss of canine equipment will be reported to the handler's supervisor immediately.

An off duty canine handler may use the department canine vehicle as long as the canine is present and the handler is prepared to respond to calls if needed. Any passenger, other than the canine, must abide by the department policy concerning use of seat belts.


Whenever a dog is removed from active service except for illness, viciousness, or some similar situation, the dog will be offered to the handler.

a) If the dog is to be released from its canine assignment, the new owner will be required to sign a waiver of legal liability, releasing the City of Eau Claire, the City of Eau Claire Police Department, and departmental personnel from all liability or responsibility for anything which concerns the dog from that day forward.

b) The new owner receiving the dog must, as a condition of his/her receipt of the dog, immediately relicense the dog in the new owner's name at their expense.

c) All pedigree papers will be given to the new owner receiving the canine.

In the event of the death of the canine, the following procedures will be followed:

a) The supervisor will be immediately notified.

b) The veterinarian and/or District Attorney's office will be contacted to determine whether an autopsy is necessary and if so, where the canine should be transported.

c) If no autosy is necessary, the handler shall make arrangements with the vetrerarian for proper disposal.

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